The story of Pennsylvania is a story that is written in stone.
You might say that geology is the unofficial science of the state, defining the hills and valleys of not only the terrain, but the settlement, the history and the economy.
And the geology can be followed, highs and lows, ups and downs, through a new installation at Penn State.
This week, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery welcomed a new tenant, a freshly restored map that celebrates Pennsylvania’s rocky topography.
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It isn’t small, spreading 17 feet long and 7 and a half feet high, in plaster that shows the Keystone State in three dimensions.
It is not new, first being unveiled at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
It was born in Pennsylvania, created by Philadelphian Edward B. Harden, a man who celebrated the uses of his relief maps for both scientific and instructional value.
It is also an old friend. According to the university, the map first came to campus in 1897, where it was displayed in Old Main. It has spent time in the Mining Building and the Steidle Building.
But when Steidle was slated for its facelift, starting last fall, the Office of Physical Plant decided to give the 122-year-old piece of scientific art a polish, too. Some new paint, new plaster and it had new life, all prepping it for its new home.
“This map is an extremely significant artifact of the history of science at Penn State and will now be the core of a new exhibit on contemporary research in college,” said gallery director Russ Graham. “It is like creating a new exhibit on aviation with the Wright brothers’ first plane as the focal point.”